Unmade Leader: Born or Made?

There have been a number of recent interviews of leadership thought leaders discussing the "are leaders born or made" question. The answers are almost always "both, but mostly made." This question is at the heart of our upcoming book The Unmade Leader. In this book, we break down our answer... leaders are born and then unmade.

Why do we say leaders are born? I believe Expert Leaders demonstrate a set of “leaderly” behaviors that are mostly learned (thus providing support to those who think leaders are made.) However, I also believe that behavior is not a solitary system. In other words, we behave in a certain way because of something else. In The Unmade Leader we call this “something else” for leaderly behavior a Switch. A Switch is a leadership characteristic that someone is born with and that makes a HUGE impact on their leadership effectiveness; that literally switches their ability to make a positive influence on or off. (The Switches we discuss in The Unmade Leader are Trustworthiness, Awe, Energy, Curiosity, Authenticity, Attraction and Decisiveness.)

So, I believe that leaders are born with the big things they need to be an Expert Leader. From there we learn the behaviors necessary to allow these Switches to come to life.

Are leaders born or made? Born with the big things. We can make the little things.

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